The apparent handing in of his transfer request on Tuesday has seemingly put John Stones’ protracted transfer to Chelsea in motion after being one of this summer’s sagas.
Everton’s young defender looks set to finally sign on the dotted line on a contract for champions Chelsea before next Tuesday’s transfer deadline for anywhere up to a reported £40 million.
He will have plenty of competition for a starting spot though, with captain John Terry, England regular Gary Cahill and fellow promising centre back Kurt Zouma to fight against for a place in Chelsea’s 11.
What will work in his favour, however, is perhaps two of the most important characteristics a modern day Premier League player can possess: being young and English.
If the deal is completed by the weekend, though this is unlikely, he could get an early starting berth against Crystal Palace with Terry facing a one-match ban following his red card in the 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Regardless, Stones should get the amount of first team football he requires, if not this season then certainly the one after with Cahill’s Chelsea career seemingly coming to an end as well as Terry’s.
Despite Stones’ imminent departure, France international Raphael Varane remains a long-term target for the Blues as a replacement for Terry and with three exciting young defenders to compete with; Cahill could find himself moving onto pastures new to end his career with someone he can play week in, week out for.
Terry could leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Stones, on the other hand, will see his career move on leaps and bounds if and when he swaps Liverpool for London.
During this season he can learn from arguably the best centre half in the country over the past 10 years in Terry, a man who captained his country for four years and boasts countless experience both on and off the pitch.
When first team football does come his way, whether that be sooner or later, it will almost certainly heighten his role in the England set up, either at the expense of potential soon-to-be teammate Cahill or ex-Everton colleague Phil Jagielka.
Cynics may suggest that the 21-year-old is not currently ready to make the step up from mid table Everton to Premier League holders and European heavyweights Chelsea, but Stones is no stranger to a challenge.
This, remember, is a man who left hometown club Barnsley, then of the Championship, for the Premier League for £3 million after just two years and 25 appearances made in the Football League.
He featured in Everton blue 21 times in his debut season in England’s top flight, with his first start coming as early as New Year’s Day 2014, and went on to make a further 23 appearances the following season as he was one of four English players shortlisted for the 2014 Golden Boy award given to the best young talent in Europe.
Getting into the first team frame at the leading club in the country will be his biggest challenge yet, but it is certainly one the ambitious talent is up for.
Stones is set to turn Championship football to Champions League football in the space of two years. He’s normally a ball-playing no-nonsense modern defender who can turn defence into attack who is used to having a ball at his feet, right now; he has the world at his feet.